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Juveniles Being Tried As Adults Essay Definition

Should Juveniles Be Tried As Adults?

The word justice is described in the dictionary as "a being righteous; fairness" and to bring to justice is stated as "to treat fitly or fairly". Is our juvenile justice system just? According to the definition it is not. So, do you think juveniles should be tried as adults or should they be tried as juveniles?

It is not fair or righteous to treat juveniles as adults. Today we live in a world of crime and the youth are committing many of these crimes. The juvenile court system is to deal with all crimes committed by minors (under age 18) but this is not happening mostly minor crimes and cases involving custody and neglect are being brought to these courts. When a person is tried, he will fall under the category of either an adult or a minor. However, things in the judicial system are changing. Kids who would normally be considered a minor are now beginning to be tried as an adult. How can we single out certain minors and call them adults? Were they considered adults before they carried out an act of violence? No. How did a violent act cause them to cross over a line that is defined by age? The major crimes such as murder and assault committed by youth are most times disputed in criminal court, which is adult court where children as young as ten are being tried and convicted as adults. Youth, that are not considered adults when it comes to voting, drinking, driving, are being sent to adult prisons for serious crimes. This is not justice; they can not try children as adults because they are not adults. In Aristotle's "A Definition of Justice" he writes that their needs to be equality before there can be justice. It is easy to see and understand that children and adults are not equal; they have different standards set forth by law. A child must reach the age of eighteen before he can vote, and age twenty one before he can drink. So why can he serve an adult punishment?

Poverty is a major factor that causes crime in society. Nearly 22 percent of children under the age of eighteen live in poverty. Poverty, in absolute terms, is more common for children than for any other group in society. Ageism, they say, is the last frontier in the quest for economic equality. Adolescents from lower socioeconomic status (SES) families regularly commit more violence than youth from higher SES levels. Social isolation and economic stress are two main products of poverty, which has long been associated with a number of D-words like disorganization, dilapidation, deterioration, and despair. Pervasive poverty undermines the relevance of school and traditional routes of upward mobility. The way police patrol poverty areas like an occupying army only reinforces the idea that society is the enemy whom they should hate. Poverty breeds conditions that are conducive to crime (O'Conner Par...

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INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE1

Looking at the policies of other countries provides some perspective on criminal justice in the United States. An international study of 15 countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England and Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland—notes that all have special provisions for young criminals in their justice systems, although some (such as Denmark, Russia, and Sweden) have no special courts for juveniles. Table 1-1 depicts some of the differences among countries, showing the range in variability for the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the age at which full responsibility as an adult can be assumed, the type of court that handles young people committing crimes, whether such young people can be tried in courts that also try adults, the maximum length of sentencing for a juvenile, and policies regarding incarcerating juveniles with adults.

The United States was not alone in seeing a dramatic increase in violent crime by juveniles in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many European countries and Canada experienced increases in their rates of violent crime, particularly among juveniles (Hagan and Foster, 2000; Pfeiffer, 1998). It is difficult to compare rates across countries, because legal definitions of crime vary from country to country. For example, in Germany, assault is counted as a violent crime only if a weapon is used during the commission of the crime, whereas in England and Wales, the degree of injury to the victim determines whether or not an assault counts as a violent crime. Crime is also measured differently in each country. For example, the United States commonly relies on numbers of arrests to measure crime. In Germany, Austria, and Italy, among other countries, crime is measured by the number of cases solved by police (even if the offender has been apprehended) (Pfeiffer, 1998). Nevertheless, trends in juvenile violent crime appeared similar in many developed countries in the 1980s and early 1990s,2 although the rates were different.

The United States has a high violent crime rate—particularly for homicide—in comparison to other countries, although property crime rates, particularly burglary, are higher than U.S. rates in Canada, England and Wales, and The Netherlands (Hagan and Foster, 2000; Mayhew and White, 1997). In 1994, the violent crime arrest rate (includes homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape) for 13- to 17-year-olds in the United